The Holy Week: a time to reflect
In the midst of the holiest of weeks on the church calendar, despite the fact that the world is becoming more secular, and the church and like-minded institutions generally have less influence on people, Anglican Priest Father James Palacious says the church and Christians have to step up to the plate and try, even as for many young people the significance of this week may have been lost. That problem he said is compounded by the ideas of all the parties and revelry that usually abound at this time of year and the long holiday weekend.
“We’ve lost in that it’s the time for regatta and people go to homecoming and stuff, and unfortunately, they don’t go to church as a part of all those celebrations,” said Palacious. “So quite naturally the world is becoming more secular and the church and institutions generally have less influence on people, but we still gat to step up to the plate and try.”
The Anglican priest encourages people to think of the reason for the season like everything else and to be more reflective.
“Even if it’s Majority Rule Day, think of the reason behind it. Think of how our forebears fought on our behalf. If it’s Independence Day think of what that means. If it’s your own birthday, think of what that means – in terms of God giving you life … God giving you the opportunity. If it’s Whit Monday. Think of what it meant for the Holy Spirit to come and make such an impact. Whatever the occasion is, let’s be more reflective. We just see it as another holiday, another time for merriment – which is fine … let’s have a ball man.”
Palacious, who will travel to Rum Cay for Easter said he plans to have a blast while in the southern island, fishing and doing all the things he likes to do with his adopted people there, but at the same time, he will conduct Holy Week services and fellowship as they don’t have a resident priest.
“Emancipation Day – what does it mean? That in 1833 it was passed; that in 1834 it was enacted; in 1838, after the period of apprenticeship, we were really free to go. What does that mean to us now?”
Palacious said people should be teaching their children.
“That’s why the Jews are so strong, because straight throughout the Bible, they say when your children ask you why you do this, you must tell them. But we don’t sit our children down and say do you know before 1967, we didn’t have opportunities to go to school beyond age 14 unless you were in St. Augustine’s College, Queen’s College, St. John’s, St. Anne’s or one of them. We need to teach our children, whether you vote FNM or what. Before 1956 or 58 – we couldn’t go to certain hotels, we couldn’t go to certain places – these are the facts. Teach our children and don’t let them lose that.”
And during this holiest of weeks on the church calendar, he said Holy Week, which is from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection, is basically just what it is – the holiest of weeks in terms of moving in a very intentional way in reflection on the life of Christ, especially the last week or so of his life.
Day one: The triumphal entry on Palm Sunday
On the Sunday before his death he began his trip to Jerusalem knowing that soon he would lay down his life for mankind’s sins.
Day two: On Monday, Jesus cleared the temple
He returned with his disciples to Jerusalem. Along the way he cursed a fig tree because it failed to bear fruit.
Day three: On Tuesday Jesus went to the Mount of Olives
They passed the withered fig tree on their way, and Jesus spoke to his companions about the importance of faith.
Day four: Holy Wednesday.
The Bible doesn’t say what the Lord did on the Wednesday of the Passion Week, but scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent the day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover.
Day five: Passover and Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.
Holy Week takes a somber turn on Thursday. From Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast. That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. By performing this humble act of service, Jesus demonstrated by example how believers should love one another.
Day six: Trial, Crucifixion, Death, and Burial on Good Friday
Good Friday is the most difficult day of Passion Week. Christ’s journey turned treacherous acutely painful in these final hours leading to his death. According to Scripture, Judas Iscariot, the disciple who had betrayed Jesus, was overcome with remorse and hanged himself early Friday morning. Meanwhile, before the third hour (9 a.m.), Jesus endured the shame of false accusations, condemnation, mockery, beatings and abandonment. After multiple unlawful truths, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion. Jesus carried his own cross to Calvary where he was nailed to the wooden cross. Jesus’ first words from the cross were “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” – and his last words were “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
About the ninth hour (3 p.m.), Jesus breathed his last breath and died. By 6 p.m. Friday evening, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, took Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb.
Day 7: Saturday in the tomb
Jesus’ body lay in its tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day. At 6 p.m., Christ’s body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus.
Day 8: Resurrection Sunday
On Resurrection Sunday, or Easter, we reach the culmination of Holy Week. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith.
Early Sunday morning, several women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James, went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering of the entrance had been rolled away. An angel announced “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here. He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”
On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ made at least five appearances – the first person to see him was Mary Magdalene. Jesus also appeared to Peter, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all of the disciples, except Thomas, while they were gathered in a house of prayer.
In many churches, services are held every night to mark various things, starting from Palm Sunday, which commemorates the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, coming as a king in all humility, not a big, white horse, but on a donkey. And of course, the people emphasizing the hail hosanna to the son of David, and then a few days later they cried crucify him.
“The church really wants you to pause and say let us think now, let us kind of do things differently, let us worship a little more regularly as we move in to talk about Maundy Thursday – Maundy from a Latin word from which we get mandate – to command. On that night, scripture tells us he was betrayed. Jesus took bread, he initiated what we now call The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion or the Eucharist. He broke it and he said not in the typical Jewish setting where it was commemorating something, the Passover, it was commemorating his being sacrificed as the sacrificial lamb. The sacrifice would have been made on behalf of the Jewish people. Jesus said ‘this is my body, this is my blood’ and sure enough the next day, that is what happened. We were commanded to commemorate the giving of Holy Communion. Then Jesus said love one another. He also washed the disciples’ feet and gave them the command, ‘as I have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another’s feet’. Be humble, be of service to others.”
On Good Friday, he said we commemorate the most solemn day in the Christian year.
As for the symbols surrounding Good Friday, he said the practice of piping a cross onto a bun has to do with ancient practices in Israel. And as for the bread and fish eaten on Good Friday, he said Jesus fed the 5,000 with bread and fish and that traditionally on Friday in the Christian context, in commemoration of the death of Christ and his suffering for us, he said it was decided in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Polity, and to a lesser extent the Methodist, to eat fish on Friday. And he said it was not just about avoiding the consumption of any blood products, but because fish was considered common things.
“Tradition is now outdated in light of what the reality of the situation is. Fish was considered common thing – you go right out from the dock, throw your line, pick up some fish and come back. Everybody could have fish, it was common; [on the] flip side, meat – that was a part of your livestock, a part of your assets, that was what you sold – so meat was far more expensive than fish. Now you see how the idea of your sacrificing something on Good Friday, to recall your sinfulness that caused Christ pain, that situation is now not consistent with the economic and practical reality. Fish is far more expensive than most meat. Chicken leg quarters you can get 10 pounds for $7.90 etc., so now you can get beef and stock for $3-$4-$5 per pound. You can’t get fish for that kind of a price. And [Holy Week] it’s worse. You eat the bread which is supposed to be reflective of the Passover, break it and have the Passover meal.”
While a lot of commercialization has sprung up with regards to Easter week, the Anglican priest said that was okay if it emphasizes what it’s supposed to.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.